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Baseball: The Redemption of Joe Torre

June 16, 1962 - “You’re a fat slob,” said Frank Torre (left), the nimble first baseman of the Milwaukee Braves, at the family dinner table in Brooklyn. “Lay off me, Frank,” pleaded Joe Torre (right), his 16-year-old kid brother. He didn’t know what else to say because he weighed 240 pounds. “With all that blubber,” continued Frank inexorably, “you’ll never become a big leaguer. You’re too fat to be anything but a catcher. Better quit fooling around with pitching and playing infield. Buy yourself a catcher’s mitt and go on a diet.” So, Joe invested in a big mitt and went on a diet. Now, he’s a rock-hard 205-pounder who made the big leagues last year at the age of 20 as a catcher for the Milwaukee Braves. He clouted a home run in his first game and batted a sound .278. The experts say he is going to be one of the great ones. “Warren Spahn was the first pitcher I caught,” says Joe. “He’s been pitching as long as I’ve lived. The biggest thrill of all was to catch Warren in his 300th victory game. He only shook me off on his last pitch. I wanted a screwball, but he wanted a fastball. The batter flied out.” Frank Torre, nine years older than his kid brother, has faded from the bigs. But Frank launched a career of rare promise when his taunts drove Joe into reducing his weight and into taking up catching.


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